Tag: Academy of Art University

Pixar Storyboard Class – Toy Story Beat Boards

This semester I am taking ANM 499 Digital Storyboarding for Feature Animation with Pixar Story Artist Kristen Lester. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given, as well as watching the films assigned. Happy boarding!

For our second to last assignment, we were tasked to create our very own Toy Story short. I greatly enjoyed this assignment, as Toy Story is my favorite film of the Pixar Canon (Wall*E and Monsters U are in a close tie for second).

We had to come up with five short ideas and five beat boards for each.

Camp Out
In the story Camp Out, Bonnie and the toys are camping in the backyard. Trixie decides to go on an adventure and ropes Rex to come and join her. They are captured by a band of toys who were left outside too long and have gone feral as a result. After Rex and Trixie defeat the leader in a series of challenges, they become the rulers of the backyard.

 

A Very Potato Head Christmas
Mr. Potato Head hates everything to do with Christmas – the lights, the sounds, the wrapping paper, everything gets on his last nerve. He heads up to the attic for some peace and quiet and to wait out the holiday. While up there, he stumbles upon the Christmas toys, who share with him how fortunate he is to get to spend time with Bonnie, her family and the other toys all year around. Once Potato Head realizes how fortunate he really is, he comes to love Christmas.

 

Summer Showdown
Bonnie and Buttercup are enjoying a day at the beach, but start arguing with Bonnie’s cousin Troy and his Seahorse toy. They both enter a sand castle building contest, but realize that they can only win if they work together. Once they join forces, they build the best castle on the beach, and Bonnie, her cousin and her toys learn a great lesson – two heads are better than one!

 

Super Chop!
Hamm is tired of always being the villain and decides to be the hero for once by becoming Super Chop! Along with his sidekick Rex, the Dino Wonder, they play out their fantasies as super heroes. But when Dolly and Buttercup are accidentally thrown in the washing machine, only Super Chop and the Dino Wonder can save them.

 

Wildflower Round-Up
After listening to a gallant and romantic story about a magical flower, Buzz decides to venture into the backyard to get a flower for Jessie to show her how much he cares. What he doesn’t count on though is the giant rabbit guarding the treasure.

After presenting our ideas, our classmates voted on the two I liked best. The consensus was Wildflower Round-Up. I personally liked the Christmas Story better, but Wildflower proved to have more comedic opportunities. Tune in next time to see the full story!

Pixar Storyboard Class Weeks 8 and 9 – Red Samurai

This semester I am taking ANM 499 Digital Storyboarding for Feature Animation with Pixar Story Artist Kristen Lester. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given, as well as watching the films assigned. Happy boarding!

For this assignment, we were given the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and tasked with creating our own version in a different genre. As I saw thinking about what version I wanted, two ideas came to mind: spy films and samurai. Originally I intended to create a Little Red Riding Hood spy caper, but the more I thought about it, the more I envisioned a great film a la Akira Kurosawa.

To prepare, I watched the following amazing films:

Machiko_Kyo_in_Rashomon

Rashomon

ran

Ran

sanjuro

Sanjuro

 

throneofblood2

Throne of Blood

If you want to watch films with great cinematography, story and emotional depth, these are your films. They are also quite dark — darker than I anticipated. Basically, they chronicle the folly of man. Definitely not feel good movies of the year. But great films don’t have to be!

Using that as my template, I created my version of Red Riding Hood I call — Red Samurai. Sherrie Sinclair, the director of the 2D grad program and my mentor Rosie gave me some great advice after I showed them the finished product, and I look forward to revisiting this story in the future.

Until then, enjoy!

Film images courtesy of:
www.filmsondisc.com
www.filmschoolrejects.com
www.cvltnation.com
www.dvdactive.com

Pixar Storyboard Class Weeks 6 and 7: Indiana Jones Returns!

This semester I am taking ANM 499 Digital Storyboarding for Feature Animation with Pixar Story Artist Kristen Lester. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given, as well as watching the films assigned. Happy boarding!

Gravity

This week’s assignment was to watch the film Gravity. I LOVE THIS MOVIE. Hands down this film and Frozen were the two best films I saw in 2013. Sandra Bullock gives the performance of her career as Dr. Ryan Stone, who along with Matt Kowalski (played by the always marvelous George Clooney) are installing a device of Bullock’s creation when everything goes horrifically wrong. The story, visuals and especially the sound are particularly compelling. In fact, the soundtrack is perhaps the best part of the show. The music entertains and frightens at the same time.

I saw the film both in 3D and 2D. I highly recommend that you see it before it comes out on DVD. It’s not going to the same experience on a television set as it is on a gigantic screen.

BullockThe reason why this film works so marvelously well in my opinion is because of the excellence of the drama — it leads the audience and draws you in and forces you into the excitement. You are also compelled by Sandra Bullock’s story — you realize that she doesn’t even WANT to be in space, and she in a few short moments becomes the lone survivor who must put aside her personal demons to save herself. External and internal conflicts abound. ASTOUNDING.

Story + Where It’s Set + How It’s Shot = Great Movie, and Gravity fulfills all of those requirements.

And now for the main event, the lesson for the day. And this day we learned about
The Tools of Composition

  • Subject Size
  • Point of Focus
  • Contrast
  • Location within frame
  • Clear Silhouette
  • Horizontals
  • Verticals
  • Diagonals

I bold the last one because it is something that I remind myself of constantly. If you want some terrific examples of how to create a clear silhouette, watch any film by Akira Kurosawa.

All of these are important because they are used to lead the eye to where you want your audience to look. Compositional tools also help the audience know what is happening and help you as an artist make sure that the background is not competing with your characters.

Getting into more detail, Horizontal lines typically mean that everything in the scene is in statis and calm.

Diagonals imply that there is a dynamism to the shot, because it mimics motion.

Verticals imply stiffness, or formality. For example, a la Gilbert Huph from The Incredibles:

GilbertHuph

 

 

 

 

image from doblu.com

The Golden Ration — the epitome of showing people where you want to look. According to LiveScience.com:

“The Golden ratio is a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. It is often symbolized using phi, after the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet. In an equation form, it looks like this: a/b = (a+b)/a = 1.6180339887498948420 …”

– See more at: http://www.livescience.com/37704-phi-golden-ratio.html#sthash.ebdNnsOm.dpuf

Visually, the Golden Ratio looks like this:

goldenratioImage from underpaintings.blogspot.com

And to see real examples from nature of the Golden Ratio, check out io9’s site: http://io9.com/5985588/15-uncanny-examples-of-the-golden-ratio-in-nature

Basically, the Golden Ratio and the Rule of Thirds are quite similar, so think of them when you are creating your boards to create interesting and easy to read shots. As long as you ask yourself “Where do I want viewers to look?” you will have a better time creating the types of shots that you want.

In short, the tools of composition will show you WHAT is important and WHAT the scene is about.

Finally, the best thing I learned from weeks 6 and 7 was a concept called the Area of Action.

That and the Indiana Jones boards coming to you soon…

 

Gravity poster from horrornews.net
Sandra Bullock picture from johnnoshark-reviews.com

Drawing for Features Storyboarding ANM 372 Week 6 and 7: Emmeline Wilshire’s House

This semester I am taking ANM 372 Drawing for Features Storyboarding with Disney Story Artist Tamara Lusher-Stocker. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given. Happy boarding!

This week our assignment was to create a horror story from a singular point of view. I’m not the biggest fan of horror story because they scare the crud out of me. But I do like suspense stories and ghostly/non-grisly stories. And it’s for a grade, so I’m not forfeiting my chance to do something new. So for my story, I decided to tell the tale about a camera crew investigating an abandoned mansion for a television documentary and being scared out of their wits.

Enjoy!

Pixar Storyboard Class Week 5: Little Tykes Genre Film

This semester I am taking ANM 499 Digital Storyboarding for Feature Animation with Pixar Story Artist Kristen Lester. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given, as well as watching the films assigned. Happy boarding!

*In order to fully discuss Kristen’s notes, I detail events that occurred in the films we watch. Watch the film, then read on to see how we analyzed the film. And you may not enjoy this film, but you should watch it anyway: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

I present to you my Little Tykes Film: The Tyke With No Name

Drawing for Features Storyboarding ANM 372 Week 5: A Cake Story Revisited

This semester I am taking ANM 372 Drawing for Features Storyboarding with Disney Story Artist Tamara Lusher-Stocker. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given. Happy boarding!

This week we redid a story of our choosing and I chose to redo A Cake Story. Here are the boards and revisions.

A Cake Story Version II

Next week we are doing a story about the spidership from Buck Rogers, set to the music of Composer Gustav Holst’s The Planets.
Fans of epic classical music will love this.


Gustav Photo courtesy of: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Gustav_Holst.jpg

Pixar Storyboard Class Week 4: The One Word Challenge

This semester I am taking ANM 499 Digital Storyboarding for Feature Animation with Pixar Story Artist Kristen Lester. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given, as well as watching the films assigned. Happy boarding!

*In order to fully discuss Kristen’s notes, I detail events that occurred in the films we watch. Watch the film, then read on to see how we analyzed the film. And you should watch the film, because this week we watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. Classic.

Hello dear readers!

This past week we watched on of the greatest, one of my favorite, one of the best films of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark. I LOVE this movie. I’ve seen in at least 20 times. And we went through a thorough analysis of how and why this film works. So grab your fedora and whip and here we go:

RaidersLostArkPoster

The Three Act Structure!
You know it. You love it. And Raiders follows it well.

The Stakes

The external stakes in this film are ridiculously high – the power of God must be saved from Hitler and the Nazis, or they will use it as a weapon to destroy the world.
The internal stakes are also quite high – will Indy change from being a greedy/selfish lout to a loving and understanding guy?
The philosophical stakes are high as well – violence and non-belief versus belief.

First Act Break
Goal starts off small – Indy, in order to find the ark, must first find the eye of Ra, which is needed to place on the staff which reveals the location of the map which reveals the location of the ark.

The Inciting Incident
As we’ve seen from the three act structure, the inciting indicident in this film is a doozy – the discovery that the ark of the covenant is real! This, Jews and Christians believe, held the presence of God. One could not touch it, or behold it without falling dead. In the film, this is also the McGuffin. We think the whole plot is about the ark, but actually, it is two fold – Indy must save the ark from the Nazis, but in the process, Indy becomes a more selfless person who cares about others, not just fame and glory. He’s also a non-believer, but he becomes a believer in the supernatural by the end of the film.

Excellent Characters
Marion Ravenwood is a badass. Of all the women in the Indiana Jones franchise, she is the best. She serves as the perfect foil to Indy – she’s tough, she lives on the edge, she can outdrink a guy under the table, and all she cares about is herself and money. Before they can learn to love each other they must first overcome their failings as human beings.

MarionRavenwood

Belloq is Indy’s clone. He’s basically what Indy would become if Indy did not change into a better person by the end of the film, he is Indy at his worst. His unscrupulous behavior and inability to change is the reason why Indy becomes the hero and why Marion rejects him. He makes the wrong philosophical choices.
As Indy’s clone, he states the negative value of the world, “I am a shadowy reflection of you.” He’s like Slade to Robin. Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker.

Belloq

Midpoint
This midpoint works because everything you need to know is explained in exposition. At the midpoint in this film, Marion is killed (at least we are led to believe so), Belloq gives his negative speech, and Indy finds the correct location of the ark.

Second Act Break
Unfortunately, the Nazis take the ark and the stakes are raised even higher:
External – Everyone will die
Internal – Indy will never find love
Philosophical – God is not real and greed wins in the end

Third Act

The Climax and best part of the whole dang show – Nazi meltdown! RaidersArkSceneThe power of God is real and the Nazis are utterly wasted. Right before they are electrified Indy puts faith in the ark and tells Marion to shut her eyes and not look, no matter what happens. The internal stakes have been resolved- Indy is a believer. The philosophical stakes are resolved- God is real and he hates evil Nazis. And the external stakes are real – the Nazis will not gain control over the ark and use it to conquer the world.

Resolution
Indy is now worthy of Marion’s love and the ark is rescued from the Nazis and placed with “top men” in a warehouse never to be seen again. Weirdly enough, the ark does not melt off the “top secret” label on the box, unlike when in the boat it melted through the Nazi symbol, foreshadowing of something amazing yet to come. Perhaps the ark knows it is best if it is not found again.

ArkWarehouse

Next time, we will watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and after analyzing the three act structure, we will better understand why that movie sucks so bad AND how we could make it better.

Storyboard Assignment

This week we were assigned to create storyboards based on a word and to have our classmates guess the word. I used bizarre 90s perfume ads, Edvard Munch paintings, The Animatrix, and abstract art as inspiration for by story, entitled Unreachable. Depressing stuff. I enjoyed working on it. Amazingly enough, one of my classmates guessed the word. Good job, Christopher. My teacher remarked that the story worked because of the progression of events from small to high stakes (wanting a mobile to wanting to reach Heaven). I learned that this is good in all stories to build dramatic tension.

One Word Challenge: Unreachable

Next week – we are doing an assignment created by the late, great Joe Ranft of Pixar fame, a genre film starring Little Tykes. Until next time.

Raiders of the Lost Ark photos from: http://adammcdaniel.com/AmselArt/Amsel_RAIDERS_rereleaseA.jpg http://img844.imageshack.us/img844/1797/indy23zbd.png http://cinemafanatic.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/raiders_of_the_lost_ark_end.jpg http://www.yourprops.com/movieprops/default/4daebecc03526/Indiana-Jones-And-The-Raiders-Of-The-Lost-Ark-Marion-Ravenwood-s-Shot-Glass-from-the-Raven-Saloon-2.jpg http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Raiders141.jpg

 

Drawing for Features Storyboarding ANM 372 Week 4: Pete and Reiss

This semester I am taking ANM 372 Drawing for Features Storyboarding with Disney Story Artist Tamara Lusher-Stocker. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given. Happy boarding!

Today dear readers I present to you the story of Pete and Reiss. This is based on one of the versions of Spider-Man. Tamara assigned us a 3 page script with the instructions to turn Peter Parker into a dragon and Max Reiss into a sleezy talent scout. Below is my rendition of the scene.

Drawing for Features Storyboarding ANM 372 Week 2: Character

This semester I am taking ANM 372 Drawing for Features Storyboarding with Disney Story Artist Tamara Lusher-Stocker. I am chronicling my experience on the blog for myself and for those interested in learning more about storytelling. I highly recommend trying your hand at the assignments we were given. Happy boarding!

“Get the audience by the throat. Don’t let them escape. Don’t wake them up. Don’t let them stop and realize ‘this is only a movie.'” – Billy Wilder

Today we showcased the character we found from life and expanded upon for our upcoming storyboard assignment.

While at the Walt Disney Family Museum last weekend I saw a fascinating young woman wearing an electric blue fluffy bear hat, a Wizard of Oz style Dorothy Gale dress, purple tights and motorcycle boots. The moment I saw her I knew I found my muse.

Wearing purple tights and a blue hat are bold choices. One decides to dress that way, that style does not randomly happen upon a person. I imagined her to be a creative, fun, Zooey Deschenel type of woman. In my mind, she loves eclectic fashion, her Etsy site where she sells her own creations, animals, playing guitar, wears her heart on her sleeve and spends little time on the phone. Here are my ideas for my character:

 

Imogene Expressions 2
Imogene Expressions 1
Imogene expressions 1
Imogene expressions 2
Imogene standing
Imogene standing
Imogene sketches
Imogene sketches
Imogene meets a fluffy friend
Imogene meets a fluffy friend
Imogene sews
Imogene sews
Imogene argues with her phone
Imogene argues with her phone
Imogene holds an umbrella
Imogene holds an umbrella

After each person in the class showed their character, Tamara gave us our assignment – our character baking a cake in 40 to 60 panels.

We also gleaned some words of wisdom to aid us in our quest.
Some excellent rules to live by:

To Be A Great Story Artist, You Need To…

1. Use your draftsmanship. Draw everything. Everywhere. All the time. Draw, draw, draw.
2. Draw AND discuss film language. Know what different shots mean and when to use them.
3. Act – you are an actor with a pencil.
4. Write – understand story structure and how to tell a visually compelling dramatic story.
5. Have a keen eye and ear. You know how Pinocchio is timeless while a lot of direct to DVD films out now have a shelf life of six months? Learn how to tap into the human psyche without being the hot thing of the moment.
6. Be flexible and humble. Carol Kieffer Police said something excellent at the Walt Disney Museum yesterday: “your plans are always meant to humble you in the end.” Things will not always go as planned. Your great idea may be ripped off the wall and tossed in the trash. Roll with it. Know when the bigger story is more important than your one cool scene.

We also discussed different types of boards, of which there are three:

1. Beat Boards – these are panels or illustrations that show the scope of an entire film. These are the fancy ones you often see in all those beautiful hard cover art of books.

2. Pitch Boards – panels that represent all the changes that occur within a film, including film shots and character emotional changes. I learned something cool here too – the more boards to show an action the slower the action will seem. The fewer the number of boards the faster the action will seem.

3. Continuity boards for an animatic or story reel – panels that play together as an animatic. A good example is the “100 mile Dash” sequence in the special features of The Incredibles.

For next week I’ll show my boards for our first assignment I call “A Cake Story.”

Until next time…

Drawing for Features Storyboarding ANM 372 Week 1: Life Drawing

Hello good webizens! Today I am showcasing my second storyboarding class, Animation 372: Storyboarding for Feature Animation. That’s right, this semester I am taking not one, but two storyboard classes. I am exceedingly pleased with this semester. As a storyboard major, I am finally taking the courses most interesting to me: STORYBOARDING. For FILM no less. Although both of my courses have to deal with storyboarding for feature animation, I am learning some different things in each one. And each of my excellent professors has their own unique way of teaching.

Disney, ILM and Pixar artist Tamara Lusher-Stocker teaches this course. Her filmography includes The Lion King, Home on the Range, Dinosaur, Treasure Planet, and Escape from Planet Earth.

On our first day of class she introduced herself, then the five of us (that’s right, only five students – stellar! Personal attention!) discussed our goals. Everyone in our class is a storyboard major and three of us will soon graduate, so we will be able to showcase our thesis project during the class.

For our first class, we discussed some of the similarities and differences between boarding for TV, live action and feature animation.

TV Animation

As everyone who has ever watched the credits of an animated program knows, most TV animation is not actually animated in the states. For this reason, storyboard artists must be extremely precise. The boards are often used by overseas animators as key frames for their animation, so accuracy is a must.

Live Action

Live action boards serve as a blue print for complicated shots. You want to make sure that the angle of that explosion looks just right before the truck drives under the bridge you’re going to blow up. The point is to give the director exactly what they’re looking for, to draw realistic characters, and often arrows are shown to where the action is going (although I hear this is starting to go away since most everything is put into an animatic now).

Feature Animation

You’re creating the entire film with boards and making a story reel, or animatic, that will show exactly how the movie will be played. No arrows here.

Most importantly one should draw loose and communicate quickly. There’s no time to noodle boards to make them beautiful. You’ll be drawing way to many of them to get attached to any one in particular.

Like in Kristen’s class, we also discussed Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey (seriously, read this book. It explains A LOT and you’ll find how many of your favorite films use the formula pretty accurately). We also discussed stereotypes, empathy, acting, and the importance of using a strong silhouette.

We practiced modeling and drawing each other in preparation for our homework.

Here are my drawings of my classmates:

Classmate 1 Classmate 2

Classmate 3

Next we watched interesting clips from The Incredibles and Monsters Inc. in order to get a better sense of character design and structure. Then we tried our hand at drawing our own crazy creatures.

Trying out different ideas, I thought of the idea of something cute and squat with glasses.
Trying out different ideas, I thought of the idea of something cute and squat with glasses.
Working off the original idea, I made my monster girl a little bigger and made her into a workout junkie.
Working off the original idea, I made my monster girl a little bigger and made her into a workout junkie.
Expanding on the theme, I made her even taller, and decided that she enjoyed swimming.
Expanding on the theme, I made her even taller, and decided that she enjoyed swimming.
My last sketch, I gave her a 50s retro swim suit and gave her the lifelong ambition of being on the swim team -- in spite of her flaming hair.
My last sketch, I gave her a 50s retro swim suit and gave her the lifelong ambition of being on the swim team — in spite of her flaming hair.

Finally, we took our last model and were encouraged to tell a story with the character, making the model into some type of creature.
Here are my three processes:

The Original Sketch with a little newt added for fun.
The Original Sketch with a little newt added for fun.
I turned the character into a witch and moved the newt so that he became an unfortunate prince floating in the air.
I turned the character into a witch and moved the newt so that he became an unfortunate prince floating in the air.
A cleaned up version of sketch two with a little more detail.
A cleaned up version of sketch two with a little more detail.

For our first homework assignment, Tamara instructed us to draw three life drawings of a single person from life, five drawings of them participating in an activity, three head studies, and one drawing of them on the phone. She encouraged us to pick someone fascinating, as our first storyboard will revolve around this character.
You’ll see who I chose in Week 2.

Bon Nuit!